you’ve finally landed in Tashkent International Airport. You are at the
Asian land at last and are ready to start discovering valuables of you
Oriental Adventures! But don’t hurry as any kind of haste is alien to
the eastern culture built on the principles of meditation and
thoughtfulness. For the beginning you will be met and accommodated at a
«Tashkent» if translated from Turkic means «Stone
City». Here is the starting point of your discoveries; this is the first
handful of gems in your Oriental Adventures! Tashkent is the capital of
Uzbekistan, the fourth largest city in CIS with a huge population of
about 2,3 million people. The city is conditionally divided in two parts
- the Old and the New city. The names are self-explanatory: in the Old
city you will find mausoleums, madrassas and an authentic oriental
bazaar, whereas in the New one there are modern monuments, buildings,
parks, and squares.
You will start from the attractions of the Old city.
The first gem in your casket is the - Madrasah of Barak Khan. This is a
splendid monument of the XVI C located in the very heart of the Old city
- the Hast Imam Square. The madrasah is surrounded by ancient wattle
and daub houses almost like they were in distant past. In the past the
Spiritual Administration of the Muslims of Central Asia headed by the
mufti was lodged in the madrasah building. In addition, there is a huge
library of eastern manuscripts here, and the world-known Uthman Qur"an
is kept here in a special room. This manuscript was written in the
middle of the VII C and is the source of the sacred book of Islam - the
Qur’an. It consists of 353 large-sized parchment pages, which were kept
in the treasuries of caliphs for centuries (in Medina, Damascus and
Baghdad). In Timur Lang’s time the Uthman Qur"an was brought from
Baghdad to Uzbekistan and then (in the XIX C) it visited St.-Petersburg,
where Russian scientists proved its authenticity. Later it came back to
Central Asia via Ufa and now it is kept here.
Next pearl is the - Mausoleum of Yunus Khan. This
monumental construction was built in the XV C in the honor of one of the
Tashkent rulers. Nowadays, the entire block of the city is named after
this medieval feudal lord. The building is quite well-preserved.
The Mazar of Kafal-Al-Shashi (sacred Sufi tomb, XVI
C) is an asymmetric domed mausoleum - khanaqah. Khanaqah is a monastery
type dormitory consisting of cells for pilgrims. Single cell is known as
"khujdra”. The mausoleum was erected in the X C at the burial place of
Kafal-Al-Shashi who was a famous missionary, a preacher of shafiitism
and a Sufi poet. Later, after the mausoleum was reconstructed it has
become a popular Muslim pilgrimage site.
Another jewel of Tashkent is the Kukeldash Madrasah
(XVI C). It is situated not far from the oriental bazaar Chor-Su and is
one of 23 madrassas of old Tashkent. It was built under the direction of
the minister of the Shaybanid sultans known as Kukeldash (which means
"foster-brother” or a person who was breast-fed by that same woman who
nursed the ruler). The uniqueness of the madrasah is in the fact that it
is functioning. Many Muslim students live and study there nowadays.
And now let’s have a look at the New city! You’ll see
how diverse are the treasures kept in your casket! First of all you
will head for the Museum of Applied Arts, because the roots of
handicraft traditions of the Uzbek nation are traced back to the depth
of centuries. This single museum fully exhibits the best samples of
national crafts spread in different regions of Uzbekistan: for instance,
there you can see knives from Chust, ceramics from Rishtan, satin from
Margilan, costumes with golden embroidery from Bukhara and much more.
Not far from the museum there is the Istiklol Square,
which is the main square of the country located in the centre of the
city. All large-scale public holidays are celebrated here. Recently its
design was expanded with an immense arch, which is illuminated from
beneath by small lights fixed into the ground. Those lights fill the
surroundings with a cosmic glow. Then we are supposed to have a pleasant
fifteen-minute walk from the Independence Square to the Uzbek State
Opera and Ballet Theatre.
Afterwards you’ll proceed to the Istiqlol Square,
which is the second largest square of the city. It is also often used as
a venue of the national holidays’ celebration. Here is also a concert
hall, where concerts of both local and foreign stars are held.
We recommend you getting to all the above-mentioned
spots by underground. No traffic lights or jams! Moreover, it is the
coolest transport in hot weather. «Tashkent underground is the most
beautiful!!!» This phrase is frequently heard from both city guests and
its dwellers. That’s true as each underground station is uniquely
designed. If you look carefully, you’ll see how different are the
station. Guess, you liked them, didn’t you? However, you are not allowed
to take pictures in the underground.
Well, the first day of your journey was quite
saturated with the impressions, therefore, perfect compliment to it will
be a night spent in a cozy hotel room. Tomorrow you will have an
opportunity to continue exploring the contents of your precious casket!
Day 2. Tashkent - Nukus (flight HY1001 07:10/09:55) - Mizdakhan - Nukus.
having breakfast at the hotel in Tashkent you are to fly to Nukus - the
capital of the autonomous republic of Karakalpakstan. This small town
lying 1255 km to the west from Tashkent is located in delta of the Amu
Darya River. Sometimes in jest, sometimes seriously, but Nukus is called
the "northern capital”, as there are a lot of attractions here. At the
same time because of an unpredictable twist of fate Nukus is situated in
the epicenter of the ecocatastrophe, which is happening at the Aral
Sea. Deserts surround it from three sides: the Kyzyl Kum ("red sand”),
the Karakum ("black sand”) and the desert plateau Ustyurt. And dried-up
Aral with its salty fields is often called Ak Kum ("white sand”) or
Aral-Kum, which is the fourth desert locking the city into a king of
After checking-in to the hotel decorated according to
the guidelines of authentic national traditions, you will have a ride
to the place called Khodjeyli where you will be amazed by the
historic-architectural complex Mizdakhan. This city-cemetery with tombs
of different epochs is probably the only place where several different
religions, immortalized in various sepulchral edifices, are presented in
a peaceful neighborhood on the same reverently silent land. The
territory of the cemetery is quite huge. It is spread over three hills,
which served previously as Zoroastrian funeral towers called "dakhma”.
Mesmerizing view of the Mizdakhan Necropolis is due to the old nomadic
tradition. This tradition demanded for the erection of impressive vaults
or even domed towers above the tombs. Those towers were called
"gumbaz”. In general all sepulchral edifices were meant to provide souls
of the dead with the place of permanent residence, which they didn’t
have during their physical existence.
On the Zhomard hill near the ruins of the mausoleum
of Saint Rajab, as you manage to build a small pyramid of seven stones,
you will be given a hope of your cherished wish fulfillment. There are a
lot of such pyramids here! However, beware of destroying other pyramids
for the sake of building yours as you can never build your happiness at
the expense of the others!
Happy expectation of your wish fulfillment will soon
give place to the astonishment because right there, at the tripod
appearing in the distance, there said to be the tomb of Adam! Now you’ve
discovered its secret location! Despite the fact that no mortal remains
were found during excavations, pilgrims are still making their way
here. Well, as it is said in the East: "Worship your own shadow if it
makes you happy”.
Overnight in Nukus. Guess, you’ve already felt
simultaneous similarity and difference of Uzbekistan and Karakalpakstan.
Oh, by the way, how do you find today’s pearl from your casket?
Day 3. Nukus - Khiva (180 km, 3 hrs.).
said good-bye to Nukus you will head for the world famous Khiva.
However, en route you will have a unique opportunity to walk in the
mazes left from ancient settlements. Those are the remains of the
ancient empire of Khwarezmia, which means the "Country of the Sun”. You
will visit the ruins of Toprak Kala, Ayaz Kala and Kavat Kala. In the
past there were more settlements, however, three above-mentioned are the
best preserved ones. Here you will see the ruins of once great walls,
branches and bays, the remains of hand-made irrigation systems and
tumbled down but still impressive defensive walls of the bygone cities.
Toprak Kala is about 2000 years old. Behind the walls
of the fortress one can see the street of the ancient city, the square,
the remains of the fire-worshipers’ temple and tumbled down palace of
the ruler at the background. And kilometers of illusive walls on the
hills, blown through by all desert winds!
However, Nikolay Rudkovski, a traveler, thinks that
the most remarkable fortress is Ayaz Kala, where you can shoot next
"Star Wars” or "Transformers”. Wherever you look you see the great Kyzyl
Kum desert, which is despite being a desert is full of life: suddenly
you can see a cheerful jerboa or predatory-looking griffins watching you
from afar. A small tumbled down fortress has perched on a cliff not far
from Ayaz Kala. It looks like it is broken away from main city blocks.
Kavat Kala was a huge reinforced residence of a local
feudal lord in the past. It seems like the surface of pahsa (adobe
clay) corners and corrugated towers have not been touched by the time.
Even carved panels of the palace walls seem to be almost new! The area
of the citadel itself is hardly more than 3 hectares. However, there are
clay ruins of once prospering landlords’ mansions, which can be seen
right behind the nearest dunes here and there. By the way, thanks to
Kavat Kala excavations, the history of Khwarezmia was supplemented by
Upon arrival to Khiva, you will be accommodated in a
hotel decorated in national style. Here you are supposed to spend a
night before getting to know the mysterious pearl of the charming Orient
Day 4. Khiva.
you are to start a fascinating tour around inimitable Khiva! This
«open-air museum» is a great example of an oriental city, which is
almost untouched by time. After the city-tour you will be able to
imagine easily everything described by Scheherazade in her sweetest
tales for 1001 nights. And now let’s dive into the revived tale to look
for another portion of our oriental adventures!
There are many local legends about the origin of
Khiva and its name. One legend says that the city was founded by Sim,
the son of biblical Noah. It tells that after the Deluge Sim was
wondering in the desert. Once when he fell asleep he saw a dream. He saw
three hundred burning torches outlining the ark in his dream. Awoken he
rejoiced at that omen and founded a city outlining the ark just as he
saw in a dream. Than Sim dug a well "Kheyvak”, which later was
transformed into the word "Khiva” and became the name of the city.
Well, Khiva meets you with its ancient citadel
È÷àí-Êàëà. Itchan Kala. The time has magically stopped forever within
the walls of Itchan Kala. Here you can climb the stairs of the
44,5-meter high Minaret of Islam-Khoja, which is a symbol of Khiva. From
the window on the top of the minaret you can enjoy a fabulous view of
The Juma Mosque (X-XVIII CC) is also great. Its roof
rests upon 212 carved wooden columns, each one decorated with its own
unique ornament, which is not repeated anymore! The mosque is unique in
architectural terms, as there is no similar construction in entire
And the Kalta-Minor Minaret was built back in 1835
and is still here. It is also known as the "short” and the "green”. And
also… (Well, to describe all city attractions it is necessary to write a
novel. However, even then I’m at risk of overlooking something
Have a walk around the Museum of Avesta or the Museum
of Wildlife! In addition, there is a Museum of Eastern Music where
visitors are allowed to strum a little on different eastern instruments.
Interesting, isn’t it?
Overnight at a hotel in Khiva.
Day 5. Khiva - Bukhara (440 km, 7-8 hrs.).
you are to accomplish a long and full of adventures ride from Khiva to
Bukhara. The road stretches along the southern border of the Kyzyl Kum
desert. You’ve already got used to the desert landscape of south-west
Uzbekistan in the past few days, haven’t you? Well, today this usual
landscape will be altered by the Amu Darya River as the road to Bukhara
lies along it. The dunes are ochrous and the sky is azure or even the
colour of classic denim if you’re looking at it through the sun-glasses.
And straight away you feel that civilization is left somewhere far
behind as there are no people, no traffic, just rare tiny settlements
scattered along the road. And if there are cumulus clouds on the horizon
it seems like far away at the very brink of the desert a fantastic
mountain range is rising into the sky.
You will stop en route to visit an ancient cemetery.
Its distinctive feature is "tabuty”, which are driven into the ground.
"Tabuty” is a local term for hand frames, which were used to carry the
body of the deceased to a burial place. According to a local belief as
every person has a number of sins the frames cannot be reused to bury
another person. If it happens it means that sins of the previously
deceased are added up to the ones of the person for whom the frame was
taken. By the way, this tradition exists among all Muslim peoples
residing in the territory of Khwarezm. In addition to the above
mentioned version, there is another belief regarding the frames: they
serve as a ladder, with the help of which the souls of the deceased get
into the better world.
Let’s continue our ride! Next stop is the observation
deck on the Amu Darya. There is an impressive view of the muddy water
surface from the deck. This is a great Asian River. Majestic and fretful
it defined the lifestyle of the locals as it was a source of water for a
unique irrigation system developed in the ancient Khwarezmia. And now,
mostly due to irrational water use for irrigation purposes, the river
carries nothing to the Aral Sea, which is deceasing. A lot to think
about, isn’t it?
A long awaited lunch in the road chaykhana promises
to be tasty and of a proper Uzbek quality as the people of this nice
country just don’t understand how one can snack with hot-dog and
Coca-Cola and be happy afterwards! Well, in fact the reason is that Cola
tastes differently when it is so hot around and fridges don’t help.
However, traditional tea will be just fine.
Before a mid-sized town with an optimistic name
"Drujba” ("Friendship”) we are to stop at the small local bazaar where
you can buy various fruits as well as excellent water melons and sweet
melons. "Melon is the food of the wise men!” is said in the Orient, so
go ahead and taste it! No official research was carried out regarding
the level of wisdom before and after eating melons, so you can start one
of your own!
As you arrive to Bukhara after a long and tiring day on the road you will check - in to the hotel and have a rest there!
Day 6. Bukhara.
are we doing today? Certainly, continue discovering the treasures
hidden in your casket! Bukhara is rightfully considered to be one of the
most ancient cities in the world as it is more than 2500 years old!
This Muslim oasis is full of the ancient history. Medieval Bukhara was
not only a big political, cultural and trading centre but also a
religious centre of the Middle East. That’s why in Bukhara, better than
in any other city of Central Asia, one can observe an "architectural
evolution” of the mosque-building traditions. Well, it doesn’t actually
mean that you won’t see any madrassas, minarets and mausoleums here as
well as other contrasting things either evoking a smile or a wish to
wonder around the city alone thinking about the eternal.
First, you will explore the Mausoleum of the Samanid
(IX–Õ CC), which is a pearl of Central Asian architecture. It is a
family tomb of a local dynasty, which was founded by Ismail Samani. The
epoch of the Samanid dynasty rule is also called the "Eastern
Renaissance”, which is not groundless as it was a period of the fabulous
shift in the development of culture and science of the region. The
mausoleum has got a very interesting history. This great monument of the
past was saved from demolition by Genghis Khan army only by a miracle
and a wit of the locals, who buried the mausoleum under the sand so as
there was only a dune in the place of the mausoleum. Later, when the war
was over, the sand was taken away. Therefore, the mausoleum still
exists only because of the care of the locals.
Upon leaving the Park of the Samanid don’t forget to
have a look at the Chashma Ayub Mazar (or mausoleum) (XII C), which is
translated as "the spring of Job”. This place is the best demonstration
of the Silk Road impact onto the development of countries interconnected
by this route, including even the remotest ones. Who could even think
that here, in Central Asia, Christian legends about Biblical characters
may appear? Nevertheless, the legend tells us that Job (Ayub) was
wondering in this region in the tome of drought. Locals, exhausted by
thirst, were asking for water. Then the prophet had stroke the ground
with his stick and the next moment clear spring appeared there. It is
still accessible for the wonderers.
Today you will admire at the most ancient fortress of
Bukhara, Ark citadel (end of the III C), which vividly fits in the
local scenery, and is an impressive reinforced fort from which Bukhara
was starting long ago. Present-day appearance of the citadel correlates
with the time of last restoration of the Ark gates by Shakh Murad Khan,
known as the «sinless Amir». It is considered, that in the times of the
other governor called Nasrullah Khan, known as the «butcher Amir» for
its cruelty, leather lash, was hanging on one of the walls of the
fortress being a symbol of his authoritarian power. As a matter of fact,
the Ark citadel hosted the whole city including residential and
administrative buildings, mosque, prison, treasury, residence of the
The Po-i-Kalyan complex (XII-XVI CC) is the central
one in Bukhara and is translated as the "Grand Foundation" meaning that
it is the base of the famous Minaret Kalyan (the height of the minaret
is 49 m, it was built in 1127), which is the highest tower in Bukhara.
It is a miracle that the minaret is still there after numerous wars and
invasions. For centuries it was used as a watchtower. Also it was known
as the Tower of Death, as for centuries criminals were publicly executed
here (by being tossed off the top). Interestingly, the word "minaret”
means in Arabic the "place where something is lighted”. Many legends
relate to this majestic tower, however, you will find out all the
secrets in place!
The Madrasah of Ulugh Bek (XV C) was built in Bukhara
in 1417, just as in Samarkand to raise national literacy. Ulugh Bek was
a fair and well-educated ruler, who was always following high ideals of
science and enlightenment. Noteworthy is his treatment of women. For
example, the words carved on the doors of his madrasah in Bukhara are
the following: «Aspiration for knowledge is a duty of every Muslim man
and woman». Another maxim from the same source states: «Let the doors of
the God’s blessings be open for the people, who are literate and wise,
every day». One can easily guess what a negative reaction was displayed
by the clergy towards such a policy of the temporal power!
Next you will head to the Lyab-i Hauz (meaning "by
the pond”) ensemble (XVI-XVII CC), which contains the Kukeldash Madrasah
(1568), and the Khanaqah and Madrasah of Nadir Divan-Beghi (1622). All
constructions are grouped around one of the ponds, which survived the
mass drainage of Bukhara at the Soviet times (at those times it was kind
of a practical requirement, as ponds were disease-breeders among local
folks). The pond"s history is the one, which deserves to be told.
Long-long time ago there stood a house of an aged Jewish widow in the
place of this pond. As Dmitry Page writes: «Divan-Beghi decided this
place to be ideal for the pond by Khanaqah. He asked the widow to sell
her yard and mentioned an acceptable price. But the Jewess refused at
any price. Then Divan-Beghi led her to the Amir, being confident that
the latter would impel her to sell the house. But Imam-Quli Khan
committed the case to the mufti board. Muslim jurists decided not to
force the yard from Jewess, as Jews in their judgement should enjoy the
same rights as Muslims. But a sly grandee laid an Aryk to his new pond
under the widow"s house… After a time, when water started to scour the
base of her house, widow came to Divan-Beghi praying for his conscience.
He answered that his offer is still valid and he will immediately pay
her the cost of the house if only she agreed to sell it. The widow said
she did not need any money. The only thing she asked for was an exchange
of her house to an allotment with permission to build a synagogue
there. Divan-Beghi accepted her alternative and handed the woman his
allotment situated at the quarter, which is now called the «Jewish» one
(Mahall-i Kukhma). Shortly, the first synagogue in Bukhara and great
hauz (pond) were built due to the above-mentioned people.
Don’t miss a chance to walk around the evening city.
Here, in the narrow streets dodging in between clay houses one can
comprehend the real taste of the Orient!
Tired? Let’s go back to the hotel and have a rest.
Tomorrow you are supposed to discover another grasp of surprises stored
in your metaphorical oriental adventures!
Day 7. Bukhara.
morning in the hotel starts from breakfast. Afterwards you will
continue exploring Bukhara and have a fascinating excursion.
Today you will make a ride to the country (it’s just a
15-20 minute ride from Bukhara), where you will see a summer residence
of the Amir of Bukhara (XIX C) called «Sitora-i Mokh-i Khosa». («The
Palace of the Moon and Stars»). The palace is an amazing combination of
the European, Oriental and Russian architecture, because before the
construction works were started Ahad Khan (the Amir of Bukhara at that
time) had send a group of his architects to Yalta and St.-Petersburg for
the experience exchange. Thus, he’d got what he’d got, however, the
Orient benefited anyway – despite the fact that the style is mixed it is
another one pearl, which both enriches the history of the region and
makes people proud of it, when the palace is shown o tourists!
Also let’s take a look at the complex of Baha-ud-Din
Naqshband Bukhari, which is sometimes treated as the Central Asian
Mecca. Baha-ud-Din Naqshband was a mentor of Tamerlane and a powerful
Sufi, who became the founder of the Sufi Order called Naqshbandia, which
soon became one of the most famous orders. A noteworthy fact is that
the order perfectly got on with the official Islam and encouraged its
followers to work for the benefit of the entire society. Thus, in fact,
it was based on a quite rational set of principles although it had also
adsorbed various beliefs of the Sufis, Zoroastrians, and, as some
sources state, even Buddhists! The complex includes many different
buildings: mosques, a minaret, a mausoleum, and a khanaqah. However, one
of the most remarkable is a burial vault of the Amirs, which is a maze
made up of brick walls a bit higher than an average human height is. In a
day time this place is reverent and peaceful. However, I guess, it is
scary here at night because as you carefully step along the walls you
suddenly realize that there are tombs inside and you’re not in an
ordinary maze but in a real vault. Another legendary attraction in the
territory of the complex is a dry mulberry trunk lying at the pond
(hauz). As you touch it don’t forget to make a wish!
Upon coming back to Bukhara you can enjoy wondering
around craftsmen shops, located in the building of former caravanserais.
And also visit the golden and carpet bazaars in Bukhara even if you’re
not going to buy anything. It is said here that "the appetite comes when
you start eating”! The golden bazaar is unique among all other Oriental
bazaars. The distinctive factor is the following - none of the sellers
is going to bore you with the offers of their jewelry as it usually
happens in other Oriental bazaars; they will wait with dignity for you
to come yourself!
After dinner, having walked till the drop, you will spend another night in the hotel in Bukhara.
Day 8. Bukhara - Shakhrisabz - Samarkand (300 km, 4,5-5 hrs.).
road from Bukhara to Shakhrisabz goes through the desert again. Through
the Central Asian desert, which is different from Egyptian, Mexican or
any other desert in the world. That"s because it is a so-called
permanent desert, which blossoms in spring and turns into a dried plain
at the end of the summer. Here saxauls growing at the waysides relieve
the monotony of the landscape for a bit. There are many towns as well as
cotton fields, watermelon plantations and vineyards on the way. Thus,
if you are there during cropping, you will be able to buy fruits
gathered from the watermelon plantations and in the gardens right there
at the wayside.
The foothills have appeared in the distance, so, it
means that we are almost at the spot. «Shakhrisabz is a pearl of the
Orient», - is sung in a famous Russian song. Well, and you are to decide
if it is true! The city charms right away. The word "Shakhrisabz” means
the «City of Green». You are lucky as you will be able to see the
constructions dated back to the XV C just as they were then, as they
have been preserved through ages. Are you ready to look at the most rare
treasures of you casket? Let’s go then!
All architectural attractions of Shakhrisabz are
related to Tamerlane and his family in one or another way, as this
famous commander was born not far from here. Moreover, for a long time
his residence was also here despite the fact that at that time nearby
Samarkand was the capital city. Consequently, many constructions were
erected by orders of Timur Lang. In particular, it was his summer palace
Ak-Saray. Its construction was started in 1380 and continued 25 years!
Unfortunately, only two pylons of the entrance portal are preserved. In
the past they were connected with the arch, which was one of the largest
in Central Asia (according to the calculations of the architects it was
higher than a modern 20-storey, i.e. its height was about 70 meters).
In fact, even these two pylons are quite impressive, even these remains
allow us imagine the power and eminence of legendary Tamerlane.
Next you will proceed to the majestic Dor-ut Siodat
complex (the "Adobe of the Power”). Now it is difficult to imagine those
separated constructions in the centre of Shakhrisabz being related to
each other, although they were. Those constructions are a high mausoleum
with a conic dome and an underground vault, which is about 40 meters
away. However, in the epoch of the Timurids they were making up a single
ensemble. Timur started construction of the mausoleum in 1376 when his
elder 20-year-old son Jahongir died. In 18 years the remains of his
second son, Omar Sheikh, killed during a siege of a Kurd fortress, were
also brought here. In the XX C during excavations of the mausoleum by
chance a vault was discovered to the east from the mausoleum. Seems like
it was built to rest the remains of the great commander himself.
However, it happened to be that Timur’s remains found their resting
place in his beloved Samarkand.
The last but not the least in historical terms pearl
of Shakhrisabz is the complex of constructions, which were surrounded by
wall in the past and composed the Dor-ut Tillavat Madrasah, Its name is
translated as the "House of Meditation”. Here two persons important for
Tamerlane are buried: his father Taragay and Kulial The Potter, who was
a teacher of the Sufi Baha-ud-Din Naqshband. As you already know he
founded the Dervish Order called Naqshbandia and was a personal mentor
of Timur. In 1435 the Juma Mosque called Kok-Ghumbaz was built at the
territory of the madrasah in addition to the existing mausoleums.
"Kok-Ghumbaz” means an "Azure Dome”.
So, it’s time to say good-bye to Shakhrisabz and head
for the beloved city of Tamerlane, the capital of his once great and
mighty empire - Samarkand. Another 150 kilometers and here it is - the
most precious treasure of your Oriental adventures!
Upon arrival to Samarkand you are accommodated in a
hotel where you can have some rest as tomorrow we will have quite long,
but full of events, interesting day.
Day 9. Samarkand.
Samarkand is another one ancient oasis, a famous pearl of Central Asian
steppes and deserts! This ancient city was one of the main points of
the Great Silk Road, city-museum, which has retained the unique spirit
of the Middle Ages just like Khiva and Bukhara.
So, after breakfast in the hotel we go out to the
streets of this dream city and move towards… Certainly, we will go
towards the central city square called Registan! At first Registan
(translated as a "sandy place”) functioned as the centre of trade and
crafts. In other words, it was an ordinary bazaar, which spontaneously
appeared at the crossing of six roads leading from the city gates. This
place of public gatherings was not only a bazaar, but also served as the
central square where Amir’s decrees were announced and public holidays
celebrated, even demonstrative public executions were performed here in
the past. It is thought that Registan sand was red because it adsorbed
the blood of numerous convicts. However, in 1875 the square was cobbled
with baked bricks and stones, which are still there now.
The Registan is encircled with the majestic buildings
from three sides, which are dated back to different centuries. Those
buildings are famous Muslim educational institutions: the Madrasah of
Ulugh Bek (1417-1420), the Sher-Dor Madrasah (1619-1636), and the
Tilya-Kori Madrasah (1647-1660).
Next you are to see the Gur-e Amir Mausoleum, which
is the famous necropolis of Tamerlane. Do you remember his empty vault
in Shakhrisabz? See, it happens all the time: as soon as someone the
great dies, his last will is suddenly forgotten! So, Tamerlane was
buried in Samarkand. In fact the entire complex is not preserved, but
the central building is still there and it attracts a lot of tourists.
We enter the mausoleum with respect and there is a black tomb of Timur
inside. It is nephrite. It is empty. Well, this is a so-called cenotaph
and a real tomb is in the basement. By the way, the tomb of the great
lame is a bit "injured”: it is told that during the raid on Samarkand
one Turkish shakh filched this "object of greatness” and transported it
to his home country. But Timur despite being a happy dweller of the
better world was a bit "against” - after the disappearance of the
tombstone a large earthquake happened in Turkey! Then the ill-starred
shakh returned the tombstone onto its place, however, it seems that it
was damaged somewhere on the way. That’s why it is all chapped now.
Another treasure waiting to be discovered by you
today is the Mosque of Bibi-Khanym. It was also built during the reign
of Amir Timur and this is the only fact about it, which doesn’t give
rise to doubts. Other than that there are many contradictory legends
about this cathedral mosque, so, it is not clear where the truth is. One
of the least known legends was published far back in 1875 in a local
newspaper "Turkestanskie Vedomosti” ("Turkestan News”). Later (thanks to
Maksim Isaev) it got to the Internet. This story tells that
Bibi-Khanym, Amir Timur’s beloved wife, in the name of whom the mosque
was built, was not Asian. She was Russian and, as it is said she was a
quite superstitious person. Once a "God’s fool” told her that she would
die from a bite of a venomous centipede - phalanx. The queen was quite
worried and told her husband about the prophecy. So, in order to calm
his wife down, Amir Timur decided to create a nice building for her. It
is said that after the building was finished, Bibi-Khanym was quite
happy with this great construction.
The Shah-i Zinda complex located in the southern part
of an ancient settlement Afrosiab is also of a great historical value
(and hence, of interest for us). Shah-i Zinda (it literally means "King
Alive”) is a necropolis, which appeared around the supposed grave of a
Muslim Saint Kusam ibn Abbas, the cousin of Muhammad the Prophet. In
addition you will take a look at such famous historical attractions as
the Observatory of Ulugh Bek, the Mausoleum of Khodja Doniyor, the
Hazrat-Khyzr Mosque, and Ishratkhona.
And you will certainly like to have a rest at a hotel after the long tour you’ve made today.
Day 10. Samarkand - Urgut (50 km, 1 hrs.) - Samarkand.
we will have a ride to a small town called Urgut, where there is one of
the main attractions of Samarkand region - large oriental bazaar. One
can purchase both antiques and modern craft works here. Main working
days of the bazaar are Saturday and Sunday. These days one can buy
carpets, hand-made embroidery (syuzane), leather shoes, jewelry, various
artworks made of metal, ceramics, wooden trunks and lots more. There
are many spots right at the territory of the bazaar where such dishes of
local cuisine as palaw and oriental dumplings (or manty) are prepared.
Blacksmith shops, tin-smitheries and local costume shops are located
close to the bazaar.
So today, as you’ve walked a lot, visited the bazaar,
purchased souvenirs, taken a lot of colorful pictures, had a
substantial dinner and probably got tired you will spend another night
at the hotel in Samarkand.
Day 11. Samarkand - Tashkent (330 km, 5-6 hrs.).
in the morning you will be transferred to Tashkent where you feel once
again unique and warm atmosphere of this capital city. However, today
you will look at this city from another perspective!
You will visit the famous State Opera and Ballet
Theatre named after Alisher Navoi also known as the Big Academic
Theatre, which you saw only from the outside last time. It is considered
to be the largest one in South-East Asia!
Besides, today you will be able to walk around the
Amir Timur Square, which is the city centre, and to have a look at the
monument erected in his (Tamerlane’s) honor, which is in fact a zero
kilometer of the country. And just across the road there is the Museum
of the Timurids History - a cylindrical construction in the centre of
Tashkent, which is a real masterpiece of modern architecture! Taking
into account numerous discussions related to the mysterious personality
of this eminent Central Asian conqueror you may be interested to see the
museum exhibition, which is still amending, and try to solve a riddle
of Timur the Great.
Overnight in Tashkent. Tomorrow you will head for the
legendary Ferghana valley to continue discovering the treasures of your
Day 12. Tashkent - Kokand - Rishtan - Ferghana (330 km, 5-6 hrs.).
today you will see the legendary Ferghana Valley with your own eyes! In
the past due to its fertile lands it was called even a "gold valley”!
The most amazing about Ferghana valley is that besides the fact that
almost all architectural complexes of the region are appearing in their
primordial state, its inhabitants have managed to keep traditions of the
past - it is true for their cuisine, hand-made silk manufacturing and
almost all cultural aspects of life, including their lifestyles.
Firstly, you will visit an ancient oasis of the
Ferghana valley - the city of Kokand. This city won’t leave you
indifferent as not long ago (at the end of the XIX - the beginning of
the XX C) Kokand was the second largest city of the Ferghana Valley!
Kokand is known since the X C, however, its age of prosperity was the
XVIII C when it became the centre of the Khanate of Kokand and a
religious centre of the region.
The so-called «Urda» or the Palace of Khudayar Khan,
who was the last ruler of Kokand, is quite well-preserved. Moreover, it
was restored a little in 2009 ãîäó. The palace consisted of 7 buildings
and 119 rooms once. That time the entire territory of "Urda” was
encircled by the inner and outer fences. Unfortunately, the fences were
completely destroyed, and only two courtyards and 19 rooms have been
Undoubtedly, the most interesting is the cemetery of
the khans of Kokand as it is the attraction composed of numerous
attractions! Here you will discover the necropolis of Umar Khan called
Dakhma-i-Shakhon (1825 ãîä), which decorative patterns remind the
patterns of the Bolo-Hauz mosque in Bukhara. Next you will see the
Mausoleum of Modari Khan, where you find out a life story of a poetess
Nadira executed by order of the Amir of Bukhara and it will make you
sad. This necropolis was built in the memory of hers! Then we’ll see the
Juma mosque (1800 ãîä), where Friday prayers were usually conducted.
This mosque is also famous with its roof-supporting pillars made of a
solid nettle tree. Also we will be able to see the Amir (XVIII C) and
Norbutabi (1799) madrassas. Nowadays the Juma Mosque is hosted in the
building of the latter.
Interesting, isn’t it? There’s even more to follow.
Today you will have another one pleasant acquaintance. We arrive at
Rishtan city, which is known all around Uzbekistan and abroad for its
factory and hand-made ceramics. The pottery exists here for more than a
thousand years! There were times, when all the men in the city were
potters. But even nowadays, you won’t confuse the unique and full of
oriental charm fine lacy Rishtan ceramics and paintings of all colors of
blue with no other.
In the evening, having arrived to Ferghana, you can have a rest in the hotel room.
Day 13. Ferghana - Margilan - Ferghana. Evening flight Ferghana - Tashkent (HY1416 21:45/22:30).
you will have an opportunity to see the Ferghana valley closer!
Ferghana is quite a young city, which was founded in 1876 thanks to the
general Skobelev. Noteworthy that once the city was called New Margilan.
Besides, Ferghana is only 12 km away from Old Margilan! Most likely
that the cities will merge over time due to the population growth and
new buildings’ construction in the valley. However, now they are still
regarded as separate cities.
So, let’s start our journey to Margilan, whose origin
is being associated with the Great Silk Road, which undoubtedly you
heard a lot about. In X C Margilan was widely known for its silk ware,
and its fame spread over long distances to the East and the West. You
will have a chance to see these unique items, during the excursion to
the "Yodgorlik” silk factory. Certainly, in the past silk, khan-atlas,
bekasam, and other oriental cloths were hand-made, but still you can
find out many interesting facts at the factory. Besides, while in
Margilan you will visit the oriental Bazaar, where you can also buy some
Margilan silk and many other interesting things.
At the end of the XV - the beginning of the XVI C
Margilan was also famous due to the following circumstance: one of Timur
Lang"s grandsons - sultan Babur - was born and raised here. He became a
ruler of Ferghana and later founded the Mughal Empire in India. In
addition, he was the founder of his own dynasty - the Baburid (note that
different sources also refer to it as the Timurids or the Mughal
dynasty) - who were ruling till the middle of the XIX C. You will surely
have a lot of pleasant memories of this city as being the travelers’
shelter for ages it is still full of verdure! The architectural complex
Kaftarlik (XVIII C) will make you believe that you decision to come here
was not a mistake as you are about to see the mosque with the unique
paintings and mysterious minarets.
Having reached Ferghana, you will have an opportunity to relax in the hotel room.
Day 14. Tashkent - Chimgan - Charvak - Tashkent.
Today you will have a ride to the Chimgan Mountains famous around entire Central Asia.
Chimgan (The Western Tyan-Shan Mountains) provides
various possibilities for active rest in any season. Chimgan attracts
different people - tourists, alpinists, rock climbers, botanists,
ornithologists, archaeologists, paleontologists - and all of them get a
great blast of energy, cheerfulness and inspiration from generous
nature. Wide biodiversity allows developing "landscape” tourism too.
Mountains (the peaks of Maliy and Bolshoi Chimgan), plains, the
waterfalls of Gulkam and Novotash attract many mountaineers both from
Uzbekistan and from abroad.
In Chimgan you can choose from a range of activities:
you can ride a horse, rent skis, sledges or try an off-highway vehicle,
or enjoy the height and beauty of the mountains from the funicular.
Besides, according to your wish you may go down to
the Charvak water reserve - the gem of the Chimgan, which merrily
sparkles under the bright Uzbek sun. Nowadays this is a water reserve
with crystal pure water, where thousands of tourists come to enjoy the
nature of this amazingly beautiful land and local mountains, to fish,
swim and sunbathe, to try catamarans, boats or scooters. In general, all
kinds of active summer rest are guaranteed here. You will have a short
excursion at the territory of Charvak. After that you will proceed to
Overnight at a hotel in Tashkent.
Day 15. Tashkent. Departure.
final day of your journey has started. It is strange, but it seems that
the treasures of your oriental adventures are inexhaustible and never
cease to charm! Guess, on the whole, apart from numerous attractions
left behind the scene, Uzbekistan has already amazed you, hasn’t it? We
hope that it amazed you not only by its ancient mausoleums, palaces and
fortresses, but by the lifestyles of its people and their non-material
We’ll have to say good-bye to each other soon…
Mysterious Tashkent cheerfully smiles at you for the last time! It’s
time to go the airport. And don’t forget your casket of oriental
adventure or you’ll certainly miss it! We are looking forward to your